What may start as a simple traffic violation can result in drug charges if the police have probable cause to make such an arrest. However, prosecutors still have the burden of proving all elements of a case beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can be made.
A Pennsylvania man, who reportedly lost control of his vehicle and nearly crashed into a police patrol car head on, is now facing drug charges. The police officer was reportedly driving his squad car in the westbound lane of traffic when another vehicle swerved over the double yellow line and almost hit the patrol car head-on.
The police officer made a U-turn and stopped the other vehicle to investigate why the driver had lost control. The driver stated that he had fallen asleep behind the wheel. The police searched the vehicle and discovered a vial that contained small white rocks of suspected crack cocaine. The 56-year-old man was taken into custody and is now facing drug charges, including possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.
In order to be convicted of drug possession, prosecutors must show that the person accused of the crime knew the drug was a controlled substance and that he or she knew they had possession of the drug. Someone who is charged with possession of a drug for personal use faces less serious charges than someone who is charged with possession with intent to distribute. Intent to distribute may be indicated by possession of a large quantity of the drug, possessing digital scales or baggies or having large amounts of cash.
Someone may also face charges for possession of drug paraphernalia if they are found in possession of crack pipes, bongs or syringes. Whether or not something is considered drug paraphernalia usually depends on what it is primarily used for.
In the end, the law surrounding drug charges can be nuanced. Those accused of drug crimes may want to seek advice regarding the specifics of their situation and all available defenses.
Source: Cecil Daily, “Pa. man charged with drug possession after losing control of vehicle,” Carl Hamilton, June 26, 2013